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CHAPTER 1-Law and Legal Reasoning

A. LAW: Enforceable rules governing relationships among


individuals and between individuals and their government that guides
social conduct (PARTIES TO LITIGATION)
1. Law consists of enforceable rules of conduct found in:
A. Unwritten principles (Common Law)
B. Written rules (Statutes)
C. Court decisions (Case Law)
2. Jurisprudence- The study of law including the different schools
of legal jurisprudential thought
B. LEGAL PHILOSOPHY: is significant in how judges apply law
to disputes.
1. Judges philosophical application or approach to applying the law
to a dispute is a subject of jurisprudence
1. A judge is influenced by his/her legal philosophy
2. How is a judges philosophical application in applying the
law to a set of facts relevant to jurisprudence
FUNCTION OF A JUDGE: Not to make law but to interpret and
apply the law to a given set of facts
JUDGES HAVE FLEXIBILY IN INTERPRTING AND
APPLYING THE LAW (Same facts different conclusions)
C. FACTORS INFLUENCING A JUDGES DECISION
MAKING:
1. Personality
2. Values
3. Intellect
4. Politics
5. Legal philosophy

C. SCHOOLS OF JURISPRUDENTIAL THOUGHT


1. NATURALIST SCHOOL
a. There is a higher universal law that applies to all mankind
(Natural Rights)
b. There is absolute right and wrong
c. There are moral principles inherent in human nature
(Natural Laws)
d. There is an absolute right and wrong
e. An ideal state of being exists
f. AN UNJUST LAW IS NO LAW AT ALL
2. POSITIVIST SCHOOL
a. The written law of a society at a given time is the law
b. No higher law than the nations positive law
c. No natural rights but human rights provided by law-no
connection between law and morality
d. Whether a law is bad or good is irrelevant it must be obeyed
until changed by an appropriate legislative body
3. HISTORICAL SCHOOL
a. Law has evolved over time so look to past to determine what
law should be today
b. Legal doctrines that have withstood the passage of time
c. Legal doctrines that have worked best in the past should
shape present law
4. LEGAL REALISM
a. Law is a means to a social end-law is shaped by social forces
and needs
b. Law is shaped by economic needs and realities

JUDGES UNDER WHICH LEGAL SCHOOL OF THOUGHT


WOULD BE MORE INCLINED TO RENDER A RULING THAT
WOULD RESULT IN THE CHANGE OF THE LAW AND
WHY?
________________________________________________________
________________________________________________________

D. TENSION THAT EXISTS IN THE LAW


1. The Need for Stability vs. Providing an Opportunity for Change
2. Function of law is to maintain stability and allow for change
in the law
3. Complex system of moral/ethical conduct giving order to
society

E. SOURCES OF AMERICAN LAW


1. Constitutions
a. Federal- US Constitution
1. Supreme law of the land-conflicts
2. Critical check on other branches of government
b. State Constitutions
1. Supreme law of the state but cannot conflict with US
Constitution
2. Statutes
a. Laws enacted by a legislative body
b. Federal statutes-US Code that applies to all states
c. State statutes- applies to that state
d. Uniform laws-avoid law conflicts among states
1. UCC-facilitating trade among the states

e. Conflicts of Law
1. No law can conflict with the US Constitution
2. No state statute can conflict with the state Constitution
3. No state statute can conflict with a federal statute
4. No governor can enforce a law in violation of the State or
US Constitution
3. Administrative Law
a. Rules, orders, and decisions of administrative agencies
b. A federal, State or Local government agency established to
perform a specific function (Regulation)
1. Ececutive agencies- authorized by President
a. US Food and Drug/US Dept/ Health and Human Services
2. Independent agencies-more independent
a. Federal Trade Commission/SEC/FCC
4. Case Law and Common Law
a. American law based on old English Common Law
b. American law is a process of evolution-interpretations of
statutes and constitutional provisions
c. Case law/Judge made law/Common law
F. COMMON LAW
1. Body of general rules that prescribe social conduct
2. No particular form-an evolution process
3. An attempt to establish a uniform set of customs
4. Over time a form of Jurisprudence developed
G. KINGS COURTS/COURTS OF LAW/REMEDIES AT LAW
1. Providing a forum in which uniform justice could be obtained
2. Where remedies can be sought out by those suffering harm
3. Remedies at law-money damages, goods, land, tangibles
4. Courts of Law/Remedies at Law/Money

PROBLEM: When money was an insufficient remedy, the court of


law could do nothing, NO REMEDY, NO RIGHT
H. CHANCERY COURTS/COURTS OF EQUITY/REMEDIES
AT EQUITY
1. Founded on notions of justice and fair dealing
2. Decided by a counselor to the king-Chancellor
3. Unique remedies unlike money damages-extraordinary relief
4. Equitable Remedies: Court ordering a party to:
a. Injunction-stop engaging in certain activities
b. Specific Performance-perform under the terms of an agreement
c. Recession-cancellation of a contract obligation
d. Reformation-change the terms of a writing (Contract/Deed)
e. Accounting-provide an account of financial activities
COURTS WILL NOT PROVIDE AN EQUITABLE REMEDY IF
MONEY DAMAGES IS A SUFFICIENT REMEDY AS
EQUITABLE REMEDIES ARE EXTRA-ORDINARY RELIEF
I. EQUITABLE MAXIMS
1. General statements of equitable rules:
a. Those who seek equity must do equity-be fair yourself
b. Come to court with clean hands-you have done no harm
c. Equity regards substance over form
d. Equity aids the vigilant
1. Laches
2. Statute of Limitations-time period for filing a lawsuit if
violated plaintiff is barred from pursuing a claim
J. PROCEEDURAL DIFFERENCES BETWEEN LAW AND
EQUITY
1. Plaintiff/Petitioner vs. Defendant/Respondent
2. Court trial vs. Jury trial
3. Two different courts vs. One court

K. DOCTRINE OF STARE DECISIS


1. Common Law-Judges decided controversies
2. Judges attempted to be consistent
3. Therefore relied on precedent-basing rulings on earlier
Decisions, serving as a basis for present decision
4. No formal documentation on rulings then Year Books and today
reporting decisions in reporter systems
5. This practice of deciding new cases on precedent became the
doctrine of STARE DECISES
6. Judges are obligated to follow precedent in their jurisdiction
7. A decision reached in CA Supreme Court is BINDING on all
state courts
L. FUNCTION OF STARE DECISIS
1. Efficiency in the court system
2. Uniformity in applying the law
3. Consistency in applying the law
4. Stability in the social and business practices
5. Predictability of the law
CAN OR SHOULD A COURT EVER DEPART FROM
PRESEDENT?
1. CASES OF FIRST IMPRESSAION
2. PRECEDENT IS INCORRECT
3. SOCIAL CHANGES
4. CHANGES IN TECHNOLOGY
5. MUST HAVE A COMPELLING REASON

M. CLASSIFICATION OF LAW
1. Substantive vs. Procedural
a. define, describe, create rights vs. methods of enforcement
2. Civil vs. Criminal
a. Civil-duties existing between individuals with individuals,
governments, business entities and remedies sought in law and/or
equity
b. Criminal-wrongs committed against public policy as a whole
acts that shock the consciousness of society
money damages vs. incarceration/fines/probation

REMEDIES
FACTS
1. RABE IS SUING SANCHEZ FOR BREACH OF
CONTRACT
2. SANCHEZ PROMISED TO SELL RABE A VAN GOUGH
PAINTING FOR $30M
3. SANCHEZ NOW REFUSES TO SELL RABE THE
PAINTING
1. WHO IS THE PLAINTIFF AND WHO IS THE DEFENDANT
2. IF RABE WANTS PERFORMANCE WHAT IS HIS
REMEDY
3. WHAT IF SANCHEZ MISREPRESENTED THE PAINTING
AS A VAN GOUGH (FRAUD) AND RABE WANTS NOW
TO CANCEL THE CONTRACTWHAT IS RABES
REMEDY
4. WHAT IF RABE HAD A BUYER FOR $40M AND
SANCHEZ SOLD THE PAINTING TO ANOTHER-RABES
REMEDY
5. WHICH ARE REMEDIES AT LAW AND WHICH
REMEDIES IN EQUITY
6. WHAT ARE THE RELEVANT SOURCES OF LAW
7. WHAT IS THE JUDGES FUNCTION IN THIS DISPUTE
8. IS THERE A REASON NOT TO FOLLOW PRECEDENT IN
MAKING A DECISION REGARDING THIS DISPUTE